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Dig Deeper: Salman Rushdie

By Ethan Shea

"Salman Rushdie"

Image courtesy of The Guardian

 

Falvey Memorial Library’s Dig Deeper series explores topics of importance in our society and the news. It connects these subjects with resources available through the Library, so our faculty, students, and staff can explore and learn more, potentially sparking new research and scholarship.

 

Salman Rushdie, author of award-winning literature such as Midnight’s Children (1981) and The Satanic Verses (1988), has been the subject of intense controversy for more than three decades.

The most notable conflict began after the publication of The Satanic Verses when the former Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini, issued a fatwa, or ruling on Islamic law, against against Rushdie, ordering his execution.

Hostility toward The Satanic Verses stems from Rushdie’s magical realist depictions of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, representations many influential Muslims found offensive.

In addition to violence against Rushdie, hatred for The Satanic Verses has caused a few people connected to the text, such has translators, to be injured or killed in attacks. Not to mention that several people have died during protests against the book’s publication.

As a result of this violent opposition, Rushdie was forced to go into hiding for over a decade. During this time, he lived in a guarded safe house in London and was granted protection by the British police.

In recent years, Rushdie has enjoyed a more public life and even made public appearances with minimal security on occasion. However, the fatwa (officially or unofficially) still remains.

Flash forward to last month, and Rushdie’s worst fears were realized. On Aug. 12, 2022, before giving a lecture at Chautauqua Institution in New York, Rushdie was stabbed multiple times. He remains alive but will most likely suffer long-term, serious injuries, such as the loss of an eye.

The attack on Rushdie has sparked new debates over freedom of expression and the role of artists.

From book to Twitter bans, this is not a new topic, but seeing actual violence carried out against a prominent writer on American soil is undoubtedly reason for concern. However, this does not mean authors have been silenced by the attack. Rather, writers are expressing the urgency of making their voices heard more than ever before.

In an interview with The Guardian, outspoken French-Moroccan writer Leïla Slimani says that cowering away from the spotlight after the attack is akin to letting terrorism win. As an artist, Slimani feels obligated to continue to use her voice despite any potential consequences, and she is not alone.

To learn more about Salman Rushdie and his work, dig deeper into the resources below.

Find Salman Rushdie’s books at Falvey:

"Joseph Anton: A Memoir"

Salman Rushdie’s memoir, “Joseph Anton”

Check out the full Guardian interview with Leïla Slimani here.

Several texts criticizing and interpreting Rushdie’s work can be found here.

This article references Rushdie’s cameo on Curb Your Enthusiasm. Rushdie was also mentioned in the plot of the Seinfeld episode “The Implant.”


Headshot of Ethan SheaEthan Shea is a graduate student in the English Department at Villanova University and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Memorial Library.


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Join the Villanova Communication Department for the World Premiere of “Parakeet”


Join the Villanova Communication Department for the world premiere of Parakeet at the Villanova Communication Department Studio (Garey Hall) on the following dates: Thursday, Sept. 29 (7 p.m.), Friday, Sept. 30 (7 p.m.), Saturday, Oct. 1 (7 p.m.), and Sunday Oct. 2 (2 p.m.) Click here or use the QR code above to reserve tickets.

Parakeet, a play adapted and directed by Heidi M. Rose, PhD, Chair of the Department of Communication, Professor of Performance Studies, is based on the novel by Marie-Helen Bertino ’99 CLAS.

Parakeet tells the story of a bride-to-be who is visited by a bird (parakeet) she identifies as her dead grandmother. After her grandmother tells her not to get married, the bride takes a transformational journey a week before her wedding. “Parakeet asks and begins to answer the essential questions. What do our memories make us? How do we honor our experiences and still become our strongest, truest selves? Who are we responsible for, what do we owe them, and how do we allow them to change?” (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2020). Read the novel before the world premiere of the play: Parakeet is available for loan at Falvey Memorial Library.

Parakeet is co-sponsored by the Villanova College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, the Office of Intercultural Affairs, VU Pride, the Honors Program, the McNulty Institute, the English Department, the Creative Writing Program, Gender & Women’s Studies, and the Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. Parakeet kicks off the 30th anniversary celebration of Performance Studies at Villanova University.

Photo courtesy of http://www.mariehelenebertino.com/

Marie-Helen Bertino ’99 CLAS

Marie-Helen Bertino’s work has appeared in The New York Times, Electric Literature, Tin House, McSweeneys, Granta, BOMB, Guernica, NPR, and others. The author of four books: Safe as Houses, 2 A.M. at The Cat’s Pajamas, Parakeet, and Beautyland (forthcoming), she is the recipient of The Frank O’Connor International Short Story Fellowship in Cork, Ireland, The O. Henry Prize, and The Pushcart Prize. She teaches in the Creative Writing programs of NYU and The New School, and earned a BA in English from Villanova University and an MFA from Brooklyn College. For more on Bertino, visit her website.

Dig deeper and explore the links below for further reading:

Photo courtesy of Villanova University.

Heidi M. Rose, PhD

Heidi M. Rose joined the Communication Department at Villanova University in 1993. She earned a BS in Speech/Theatre from Northwestern University, a MA in Communication from Emerson College, and an Interdisciplinary PhD in Communication from Arizona State University. Her scholarship focuses on performance ethnography, autoethnography, performance, culture and identity, ASL poetics and Deaf culture, and performance and advocacy. The author of numerous publications, she is the writer and performer of “Twin,” “Mirror Image,” and “Good Enough.”

She is a recipient of the Top Contributed Performance, Performance Studies Division, National Communication Association (2020), the Leslie Irene Coger Award for Distinguished Performance, National Communication Association (2018), the Creative Expression Award, Organization for the Study of Communication, Language, and Gender (2017), the Lilla A. Heston Award for Outstanding Scholarship in Performance Studies, National Communication Association (2015), Service to the Discipline Award, Performance Studies Division, National Communication Association (2012), and many others. For more information on Dr. Rose’s scholarship, please visit her webpage.

Anna Jankowski ’23 CLAS

Photo courtesy of Anna Jankowski.

Voicing the parakeet is Anna Jankowski ’23 CLAS, a senior communication major, and communication and marketing assistant at Falvey Memorial Library.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Kallie Stahl ’17 MA is Communication and Marketing Specialist at Falvey Memorial Library.

 

 


 


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Dig Deeper: Earth Day Video Offering

 Image courtesy of NASA Earth Observations. Image is of four world globes overlapping.

Image courtesy of NASA Earth Observations.


A brief sampling of Falvey Library online video related to Earth Day and our rapidly changing planet:

For Falvey Library video subscribed content visit an introduction to Streaming Video at Falvey or try one of the selected library subject headings below:

For more video dig further in:


""Merrill Stein is Political Science Librarian at Falvey Memorial Library.

 

 


 


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Dig Deeper: Women, Climate Change, Law and Data

By Merrill Stein 

As we approach the end of March, Women’s History Month and look towards Earth Day in April, consider listening to this recent podcast from the OECD, Women, climate change and data: Why we need to better understand the environment-gender nexus.

Take a moment to consider these research guides and YouTube videos from the Library of Congress, Smithsonian and U.S. National Archives.

Examine the Woman in the Law (Peggy) resource in the HeinOnline database, a  subscription courtesy of the Charles Widger School of Law Library. The “Peggy” collection features more than one million pages of contemporary and historical works related to women’s roles in society and the law.

Give thought to any possible gender gaps in common resources to which we interact with frequently, as indicated by this recent study from the University of Pennsylvania. Read about women in the digital world in the special issue of Information, Communication & Society, Volume 24, Issue 14 (2021).

 

Dig Deeper resources:


""Merrill Stein is Political Science Librarian at Falvey Memorial Library.


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Dig Deeper: Villanova Theatre Presents The Revolutionists

By Jenna Renaud

“I write plays that I like to describe as having endings with hard hope…It makes the characters and hopefully the audience want to keep fighting, keep going, keep living, and keep learning at the end of the play.”
Lauren Gunderson 

The Revolutionists: A Villanova Theatre Production

Villanova Theatre is back for the spring semester with its newest comedy production, The Revolutionists. The show runs Feb. 1020 in the Court Theatre housed in the John and Joan Mullen Center for the Performing Arts. The show is written by Lauren Gunderson and directed by Valerie Joyce. 

The Cincinnati Inquirer describes The Revolutionists as follows: In the shadow of an overworked guillotine, four badass women collide and collude in Paris during the Reign of Terror: fugitive queen Marie Antoinette, idealist assassin Charlotte Corday, Caribbean spy Marianne Angelle, and beleaguered playwright Olympe de Gouges (who just wants to make the plot work out). Lauren Gunderson’s breakneck comedy of ideas is a fiercely funny fever dream as well as a timely rumination on the role of violence in the quest for change, a “sassy, hold-on-to-your-seats theatrical adventure.” 

Dig Deeper into The Revolutionists 

Women and the French Revolution 

Photo provided by Kimberly Reilly & Villanova Theatre

The French Revolution took place from May 1789 to November 1799 and is considered one of the largest and bloodiest upheavals in European history. French citizens eliminated the absolute monarchy and feudal system and created an entirely new political and social framework. Following the death of the King, a radical group called the Jacobins took over, ushering France into what would be later known as “The Reign of Terror.” During that time, they murdered over 17,000 people. In 1795, a new, relatively moderate constitution was adopted and opposition was stopped through the use of the French army, led by Napoleon Bonaparte. Political corruption and unrest continued until 1799 when Napoleon staged a coup to declare himself France’s “first consul.”

During the time of the French Revolution, women began to speak up and fought for their own rights. Following the storming of the Bastille in 1789, women began to join in riots, demonstrate for their rights, and attend the political clubs of men. Although there was no major change regarding the rights of women following the Revolution, they made their presence known and are depicted in the majority of revolutionary art for being symbols of revolutionary values. 

Dig Deeper into Women and the French Revolution 


Jenna Renaud is a Graduate Assistant in Falvey Memorial Library and a Graduate Student in the Communication Department.


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Dig Deeper: In Memoriam—Anne Rice

Picture of Anne Rice at home in Palm Springs. Photograph by Dan Tuffs for the Guardian.

Anne Rice at home in Palm Springs. Photograph: Dan Tuffs for the Guardian.


Every writer knows fear and discouragement. Just write. The world is crying for new writing. It is crying for fresh and original voices and new characters and new stories. If you won’t write the classics of tomorrow, well, we will not have any.” —Anne Rice

Author of more than 30 novels, Anne Rice was born Howard Allen O’Brien and raised in New Orleans. Changing her name to Anne in the first grade, Rice lived with her parents and three sisters in New Orleans until her mother passed away when she was 15. Her father remarried and moved the family to Richardson, Texas. She attended Texas Woman’s University for a time before marrying Stan Rice, whom she had met in high school. After their marriage in 1961, the couple moved to San Francisco, and attended San Francisco State University where Rice earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science (and later a Master’s Degree in English and Creative Writing in 1972).

In 1966, the couple’s daughter Michele was born. After relocating to Berkeley, Calif., in 1969, Rice wrote the short story Interview With the Vampire. In 1970, Michele was diagnosed with leukemia and passed away in 1972. The following year, Rice worked to make Interview With the Vampire into a novel (published in 1976). Struggling with the loss of her daughter, “she conjured up the vampire Lestat [Interview‘s main character] out of her grief.”

Her son Christopher was born in 1978 and in 1980 she and her husband moved to San Francisco and returned to New Orleans in 1988. In 1994, the film adaptation of Interview With the Vampire was released. Directed by Neil Jordan, the movie starred Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise. Antonio Banderas, Kirsten Dunst, Helen McCrory, Thandiwe Newton, and Christian Slater also starred. Interview With the Vampire was the first of 13 novels in The Vampire Chronicles series that became “one of the most popular and profitable vampire properties of all time; selling upwards of 80 million copies worldwide.”

Rice is the author of numerous standalone novels and books series including The Wolf Gift chronicles, The Mayfair Witches, The Sleeping Beauty series, among others. Her novel, Feast of All Saints became a Showtime mini series in 2001. Rice adored her fans, telling the ABC News program Day One in 1993, “When I go to my signings…Everybody else is dripping with velvet and lace, and bringing me dead roses wrapped in leather handcuffs, and I love it.” Her fans in New Orleans, part of the Vampire Lestat Fan Club, host numerous events including an annual Anne Rice Vampire Ball. A local celebrity in her hometown, Rice was know to show up to local book signings in a coffin. Rice passed away on Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021, in Rancho Mirage, Calif., from complications of a stroke.

Rice was hopeful her legacy would live on—”I want to be loved and never forgotten…I’m really greedy, you know? I want to be immortal.” Rice’s life and legacy remains though her family, her fans and her writing. Acquiring Rice’s major literary works in 2020, AMC Networks plans to adapt Interview With The Vampire in an upcoming TV series on AMC and AMC+ set to premiere in 2022.

Explore some of Rice’s work below:

Autobiography:

Standalone novels:

The Wolf Gift Chronicles:

The Vampire Chronicles:

New Tales of the Vampires:

The Mayfair Witches:

The Vampire Chronicles/The Mayfair Witches Crossover:

The Life of Christ:

Songs of the Seraphim:

Ramses the Damned:

Further reading:


Kallie Stahl ’17 MA is Communication and Marketing Specialist at Falvey Memorial Library.

 

 

 

References:

Anne Rice Dies: “Interview With the Vampire” Author Was 80. https://www.usatoday.com/story/entertainment/books/2021/12/12/anne-rice-interview-with-a-vampire-author-dies-at-80/6484438001/. Accessed 15 Dec. 2021.

Genzlinger, Neil. “Anne Rice, Who Spun Gothic Tales of Vampires, Dies at 80.” The New York Times, 12 Dec. 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/12/books/anne-rice-dead.html.

Welcome To Anne Rice.Com! http://annerice.com/Chamber-Biography.html. Accessed 15 Dec. 2021.

 


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Dig Deeper: Samuel Beckett

“We are all born mad. Some remain so.” 

– Samuel Beckett 

Beckett Bites: A Villanova Theatre Production 

Villanova Theatre’s newest production, Beckett Bites, is here. Beckett Bites is a collection of four short plays by Samuel Beckett, directed by Edward Sobel, and running Nov. 414 in the Court Theatre at the brand-new John and Joan Mullen Center for the Performing Arts. There are four plays comprising Beckett Bites: “Play,” “Footfalls,” “Rockaby,” and “Come and Go.”

The play is described by Villanova Theatre as follows: “As we reemerge from a world defined by screen interactions to rejoin each other in shared space, we return with Beckett Bites, four short plays by the modern theatre’s greatest existential clown. Samuel Beckett’s plays exquisitely capture the powerful longing for connection, the inexorable nature of time, and the sheer absurdity of being human. In this deftly curated collection of four short works, audiences will imaginatively progress from isolation to the communal experience of live performance, alternately laughing at the ridiculous and glimpsing the sublime. “

Dig Deeper into Beckett Bites

Theatre of the Absurd 

The theatre of the absurd describes the post-WW2 designation of plays that focus on absurdist fiction. Late 1950s European playwrights such as Samuel Beckett, as well Harold Pinter, Eugène Ionesco, Jean Genet, and Arthur Adamov, amongst others, alluded to the question of “why are we all here?” The four main features of the Theatre of the Absurd are anti-character, anti-language, anti-drama, and anti-plot. In addition, read below for more characteristics and themes of the Theatre of the Absurd.  

CHARACTERISTICS OF THEATRE OF THE ABSURD 

  • Situations and characters’ emotional states may be represented through poetic metaphor (dreamlike, fantastical, or nightmarish images). 
  • The notion of realism is rejected: situations and characters are not “realistic” and characters are often placed in unreal situations. 
  • Set and costumes may not reflect an outward reality. 
  • Dialogue is often nonsensical, clichéd, or gibberish. 
  • Communication is fractured. 
  • There is usually an emphasis on “theatricality” as opposed to realism. 
  • Absurdist playwrights often use dark comedy for satiric effect. 
  • Characters exist in a bubble without the possibility of communication. 
  • Characters may be one-dimensional, with no clear motivation or purpose. 
  • Characters may be symbolic of universal situations. 
  • Behavior and situations may not follow the rules of logic. 
  • Structure may be circular, without a precise resolution. 
  • Action may be minimal. 
  • Setting of the play may be in one locale. 
  • Often characters perceive a threat from the “outside,” leading to a sense of powerlessness. 

THEMES OF THEATRE OF THE ABSURD 

  • Isolation of human existence in a world without God 
  • Lack of communication between individuals 
  • Dehumanization in a commercial world 
  • Social disparity 
  • Life without purpose or examination 
  • Class difference/the haves and have nots 
  • Loneliness 
  • Fear of the disenfranchised 

(Beckett Bites Education Guide, 2021) 

Dig Deeper into the Theatre of the Absurd 

Still want to learn more about the Theatre of the Absurd? Check out the following Falvey offerings: 

About Samuel Beckett 

Samuel Barclay Beckett was an Irish novelist, playwright, short story writer, theatre director, poet, and literary translator. Beckett wrote in both English and French, being born in Ireland, but spending the majority of his adult life in France. He is a playwright known outside of the field of theatre, primarily for his most famous work Waiting for Godot. As a member of the Theatre of the Absurd, Beckett often explored themes such as the passage of time and utilized repetition and silence to emphasize key ideas. 

Dig Deeper into Samuel Beckett 

Still want to learn more about Samuel Beckett or read some of his works? Check out the following Falvey offerings: 


jenna newman headshotJenna Renaud is a graduate student in the Communication Department and graduate assistant in Falvey Memorial Library.


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Dig Deeper: Get to Know Haiti

Map of Haiti from the John Smith Collection

Courtesy of the Distinctive Collections and Digital Engagement (from the John F. Smith, III and Susan B. Smith Antique Map Collection.)

 

In the past several weeks, Haiti has become a frequent news topic, the world following the twists of political intrigue and fallout sparked by the assassination of Haiti’s President Jovenel Moïse in the early morning on July 7. The plot is alleged to have included a pair of retired Colombian soldiers, an intelligence officer, and a Florida-based pastor.

Many also recall Haiti from the earthquake that devastated the country in 2010 or, perhaps, the 1791 Haitian Revolution, an insurrection of self-liberated slaves against French rule.

But there is so much more to know about Haiti, including its people, its culture, and its land. Haiti is home to 9 million people and has two official languages: French and Haitian Creole. Occupying the western part of Hispaniola and sharing the island with the Dominican Republic, Haiti resides between the Atlantic Ocean to the north, and the Caribbean Sea to the south.

Work Cited:
Bartell, Jim. Haiti. Bellwether Media, Inc, 2011.


Works from and about Haiti, curated by Jutta Seibert, Director of Research Services & Scholarly Engagement at Falvey Memorial Library.

Haitians writing about Haiti

Dubois, Laurent, Kaiama L. Glover, Nadève Ménard, Millery Polyné, and Chantalle F. Verna, eds. The Haiti Reader: History, Culture, Politics. Durham: Duke University Press, 2020.

Includes excerpts from the works of Haitians from all walks of life covering political tracts, novels, poems, and songs, among others. Featured writers include Jean-Jacques Dessalines, Simon Bolivar, Henri Christophe, Victor Schoelcher, François Duvalier, René Depestre, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Edwidge Danticat, Jean Casimir, Frankétienne, and Emeric Bergeaud.

Must-Read:

Selected Fiction:

  • Kleist, Heinrich von. The Betrothal in Santo Domingo.
    Print copy available. One of the earliest literary works about the Haitian Revolution. German writer Heinrich von Kleist explores interracial love in his 1811 novella.
  • Bergeaud, Emeric. Stella: A Novel of the Haitian Revolution. New York: New York University Press, 2015.
    First English translation of Stella, a novel about the Haitian Revolution by Haitian novelist Emeric Bergeaud, first published in 1859.
  • Bontemps, Arna. Drums at Dusk. A Novel. New York: Macmillan, 1939.
    A novel by Harlem Renaissance member Arna Bontemps.
  • Frankétienne. Dezafi: A Novel. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2018.
    A novel about life under the Duvalier regime written in Haitian Creole by Haitian writer Frankétienne. Now available in English translation.
  • Danticat, Edwidge, ed. Haiti Noir. New York: Akashic Books, 2011.
    A collection of stories from Haiti including works by Edwidge Danticat, Gary Victor, Evelyne Trouillot, Madison Smartt Bell, Patrick Sylvain, Kettly Mars, and Yanick Lahens.

Contemporary Accounts of the Haitian Revolution:

  • Rainsford, Marcus. An Historical Account of the Black Empire of Hayti. Durham: Duke University Press, 2013.
    A new edition of the earliest English-language account of the Haitian Revolution. Originally published in 1805.
  • Geggus, David Patrick. The Haitian Revolution: A Documentary History. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 2014.
    Print copy available. Features a wide range of primary sources related to the Haitian Revolution including personal recollections, letters, government documents, popular songs, travel narratives, and advertisements.
  • Toussaint Louverture. The Memoir of General Toussaint Louverture. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.
    Print copy available. Edited and translated by Philippe R. Girard, this book includes a transcript of the handwritten account and an English translation.
  • Beard, J. R., and Toussaint Louverture. Toussaint L’Ouverture: A Biography and Autobiography. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2001.
    Combines John Relly Beard’s biography with the first English language translation of Toussaint Louverture’s memoir.

Recent Scholarship:

 


Shawn Proctor is Communication and Marketing Program Manager, and Jutta Seibert is Director of Research Services & Scholarly Engagement at Falvey Memorial Library.

 


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Everything But the Shark Week: Considering the Lobsters

Everything but the shark week banner

American lobster, Homarus americanus, in front of white background

Lobsters have not always gotten respect, nor were they the gourmet delicacy we consider them today. In American Colonial times, the creature (aka the “cockroach of the sea”) washed up to the shore so plentifully (reportedly in two feet wide by two feet deep piles), that it was used as bait or fertilizer for crops, and consumed mostly as a very inexpensive source of protein.

Colonists saw how this leggy harvest provided a prodigious food source for the American Indians, and followed suit; in fact, lobster was on the menu at the first Thanksgiving. But it was so plentiful that people complained about having to eat it too often; urban legends abound that prisoners and servants would sue in order to not be fed lobster more than three times a week.

Ultimately, advances in canning, refrigeration and transportation allowed city dwellers and those in non-coastal areas to sample the creature’s delicious meat, creating a demand that resulted in people willing to pay top dollar for it.

According to the State of Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR), the value of the state’s commercially harvested marine resources exceeded over $600 million dollars in 2018, making it the second highest year on record. Lobsters accounted for over 75% of this bounty, landing almost 120 million pounds.

And yet, lobstermen still call them bugs!

But enough about food. We’re here to tell you that the creatures themselves are amazing even when they are not covered in butter on a grilled split-top bun! Lobsters are one of a kind in the animal kingdom. For example, did you know….

  • The word origin of lobster:  If you think about it (but don’t think too hard, because you don’t want to lose your appetite,) lobsters do look like bugs. At least the Romans and Medieval British thought so. The word lobster comes from the Old English loppestre, which is related to the O.E. word for spider: loppe. Phonetically, this eventually merged with the Latin word the Romans used: locusta, or locust, creating the word lobster.
  • Anatomy: Lobsters are very closely related to insects. They are classified as an arthropodic, decapodic (10-legged) crustacea with a soft and flexible exoskeleton. They use some of those legs to eat, as they have chemosensory leg and feet hair that can catch and taste food. They can regenerate their legs, claws and antennae, and will even amputate themselves to escape danger. They come in an assortment of colors ( but only turn red when in hot water!) And here’s something you will never unsee–have you ever noticed the difference between a lobster’s two front claws? One is a pincer, and one is a crusher.
  • A reputation for cannibalism: A lobster’s preferred diet consists of crabs, sea stars, and sea urchins. But the rubber band that one sees on the lobster claws at pounds and restaurants is not to protect fishermen or diners, but to protect other lobsters as they, like the rest of us, love to eat lobster when hungry.
  • They are eaten best fresh: The reason why lobsters are kept in tanks in a restaurant is because they taste best fresh.  John Steinbeck, in Travels with Charley, visited Deer Isle, Maine, and advised that “eating lobster is as much about the experience as the taste itself. We sat with our feet dangling over the water, flicking the shells back from were they came.”

Lobster-link-alooza! A shellabration of info:

  • The University of Maine maintains a Lobster Institute. In its mission is to conduct and promote research and sustainability of lobster fishery in the US and Canada, it provides an exhaustive online list of all things lobster, including scholarly articles.
  • Searchable Sea Literature: your new favorite nautical news site, edited by Richard J. King.
  • Lobster economics from howstuffworks.com
  • Word etymology from foodie magazine Bon Appetit. Dig deeper on the site to find their lobster roll recipe-but any mayo is too much mayo, IMHO.
  • The Lobster Conservancy: not updated since 2010, but still loads of lobster 411.

Check out these resources, available at Falvey, or through interlibrary loan:

Inspirational in literature and pop culture:

  • Alice In Wonderland danced the Lobster Quadrille and stated, “Tis the voice of the Lobster: I heard him declare, You have baked me too brown, I must sugar my hair!”
  • Comic book hero Lobster Johnson was created by Mike Mignola. This character is part of the Hellboy universe and may be based on a real-life vigilante.
  • Wonderment and misconceptions about oceans and lobsters conjured fictitious sea monsters on medieval maps.  And Jules Verne raged, in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, “My blood curdled when I saw enormous antennae blocking my road, or some frightful claw closing with a noise in the shadow of some cavity…”

In Poetry:

Too many poets to mention were inspired by lobsters, but check out New Englander poets Troy Jollimore and Ann Sexton; Scottish Orcadian George Mackey Brown, and even Jersey’s Walt Whitman’s A Song of Joys for wonderful lobster-verse.

In Books: 

Stephen King: One might think that as the reigning king of Maine-based fiction, SK would often feature lobsters, but seems to only have featured them as lobstrosities in The Dark Tower (begins in 1982) series.

The other King, Richard J., is a better source. He is an educator, author, illustrator, and edits the online reference site Searchable Sea Literature. (Incidentally, had his first lobster at the Main Line Seafood in Ardmore!) His book Lobster (2011) is must-read for a compendium of fun lobster facts and history.

Stewart O’Nan, who has collaborated with Stephen King, wrote Last Night at the Lobster, (2007) a novel which takes place over the course of the final shift at a Red Lobster being permanently closed by corporate, and the impact of it on its local blue-collar workers and clientele.

David Foster Wallace’s Consider the Lobster  (2005) essay visits the Maine Lobster Festival (cancelled this year because of COVID), where PETA usually makes an appearance. DFW articulates troubling questions about lobster and whether they feel pain; asking hey, don’t they behave like you or I would if thrown into a boiling pot of water?

Linda Greenlaw – who was featured in Sebastian Junger’s The Perfect Storm, takes readers though a lobster season in The Lobster Chronicles: Life on a Very Small Island (2002) and these days writes a Maine-based mystery series.

Cozy Mystery series involving lobsters  – What’s a cozy you ask? Amateur sleuths solving kooky crimes while juggling a day job such as lobster-fishing. Series involving lobsters in the mix include authors Barbara Ross, Shari Randall, among others.

Elizabeth GilbertStern Men (2000) From the author of the popular Eat, Pray, Love, is her debut novel about life, love and lobster-fishing.

Duncan MacMillan –  The Most Humane Way to Kill a Lobster (2012) – This British play utilizes lobster cooking metaphors of deep freezes and slow boils to mirror a midlife crisis.

Elisabeth Towsend, Lobsters (2011) Part of an 89(!) book series on food and history.

Trevor Corson’s The Secret Life of Lobsters (2009) – for a look at lobsters when they think we aren’t looking.

Nancy Frazier’s I, Lobster: A Crustacean Odyssey (2012) explores the lobster as symbols in art, myth and science.

Christopher White‘s The Last Lobster (2018) Examines the boom and possible crash of the lobster industry. Warnings to conserve began as early as 1900, with the poet Holman F. Day’s message to lobsters: “tell the dodo that you saw us when you lived down here in Maine.”

Also, surprisingly, in our online collection is a cute children’s picture book by Martha Rustad called (not surprisingly) Lobsters (2008).

And, finally, if you’re thinking about going into the business, don’t miss Bruce PhillipsLobsters: Biology, Management, Fisheries and Aquaculture (2013) for exhaustive coverage of lobster biology, management, and conservation. This book is one of hundreds of print or online resources on the business of lobstering in our collection.


Your reward for scrolling this far:

Phoebe Buffay

Phoebe Buffay says See, He’s her lobster!

 

…and of course, Phoebe Buffay from Friends provides your #1 lobster fact: “It’s a known fact that lobsters fall in love and mate for life!”


Hungry for more?

If you’re on your way down east, don’t miss Reds’ Eats in Wicasset, Maine. But, according to the New York Times, be prepared to spend a bit this year, as lobster rolls are reportedly up to $34 each  (but still worth every bite.) #blamethepandemic.

Or, stay in town and check out the Cousins Maine Lobster truck schedule­–they bring the lobster to you…and even found time to write a book about how they do it.


Joanne Quinn

Joanne Quinn ’15 MA, ’84 CLAS is Director of Communication and Marketing at Falvey Memorial Library. She will pay $34.00 for a lobster roll if she has to. 

 


 


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Everything but the Shark Week: Learning About the Mystical Narwhal

Everything but the shark week banner

slide of a narwhal from Adam Matthew Digital

This week marks the 33rd anniversary of  Discovery Channel’s Shark Week. This annual summertime milestone is celebrated with documentaries, specials, articles, and social media posts, all honoring the mystery and majesty of one of the ocean’s most feared and voracious predators—the shark.

While there are many reasons humans find sharks fascinating, the ocean’s many other inhabitants should not be overlooked. In fact, countless sea creatures are  yet to be named or even discovered.

According to Marine Bio, “an estimated 50-80% of all life on earth is found under the ocean surface and the oceans contain 99% of the living space on the planet. Less than 10% of that space has been explored by humans. 85% of the area and 90% of the volume constitute the dark, cold environment we call the deep sea. … Currently, scientists have named and successfully classified around 1.5 million species. It is estimated that there are as little as 2 million to as many as 50 million more species that have not yet been found and/or have been incorrectly classified.” So, there is proof that we still have a lot more left to learn the extent to what really lives beneath those seemingly calm ocean waters.

The narwhal is just one of the many strange and beautiful sea creatures that captivates people. This greatly understudied arctic whale leaves a lot of the imagination. Many believe that narwhals are fictional creatures plucked right out of children’s stories; glittery, sparkly, and magical cartoon-like figures. However, these mystical “unicorns of the sea” are very real.

While there is still a lot left to discover, see the resources below to learn what we do know about these elusive creatures.

 

Crack the Curious Case of the Narwhal with Some Fun Facts:

  • Average lifespan is 50 years.
  • Scientific name is “Monodon monoceros,” which means “the whale with one tooth and one horn”
  • Males (and sometimes females) have a spiral tusk protruding from their head which makes them look like a cross between a whale and unicorn.
  • Narwhal tusks are enlarged teeth, which can grow up to 10 feet.
  • Tusks have 10 million nerve endings and may play a role in how males exert dominance.
  • Every year a narwhal’s spiraling tusk grows another layer, incorporating variants of carbon and nitrogen called isotopes and some of the mercury a narwhal consumes
  • Researchers have sliced open the tusks, ground parts of them into powder, and analyzed the samples’ isotope content. The results indicate where and what a narwhal might have eaten, as well as its exposure to mercury, a potent toxin whose accumulation affects animals’ immune and reproductive systems.
  • Weigh up to 3,500 pounds and grow 18 feet in length (excluding tusk)
  • Calves are approximately 175 pounds and 4 feet in length at birth
  • Swim at speeds of 3-9 miles per hour, sometimes upside down. Researchers are not sure why.
  • Change color as they age. Newborns are a blue-gray, juveniles are blue-black, and adults are a mottled gray. Old narwhals are nearly all white.
  • Spend their lives in the Arctic waters of Canada, Greenland, Norway, and Russia.
  • Communicate using whistles, moans, and clicks.
  • Spend 2/3 of their times beneath the ocean’s surface going on deep dives.
  • Cracks in the ice allow them to breathe when needed, especially after dives, which can be up to a mile and a half deep.
  • They travel in pods ranging from two to twenty-five members.
  • Predators of the narwhal are humans, walruses, killer whales, Greenland sharks, polar bears.
  • Inuit communities use narwhal as a resource. Narwhal blubber and oil was used for lighting, heating and cooking. Narwhal skin provided Vitamin C and tusks were originally used as the tips of spears or harpoons.
  • Due to the increasing negative effects of climate change and pollution caused by new shipping, development, and noise in their natural habitat, narwhals face an uncertain future.

 

a pod of narwhals in the ocean

Dr. Kristin Laidre, Polar Science Center, UW NOAA/OAR/OER, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

 

Dive Deeper into the Narwhal’s Nest:

 The above facts were drawn from several books available in the Library’s collection.

 

Academic books/articles:

 

Video/Audio Recordings:

 

Literature:

 

Podcasts:

 

Online Exhibits/Websites:

 

Art

  • “Narwhal,” Victorian Popular Culture (Adam Matthew. Digital). Slide from the The Bill Douglas Cinema Museum.
  • “Monodon Monoceros,” Dr. Kristin Laidre, Polar Science Center, UW NOAA/OAR/OER, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

 


headshot picture of regina duffy

Regina Duffy is a Communication and Marketing Program Manager at Falvey Memorial Library. 

 

 

 


 


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Last Modified: July 14, 2021